Australia’s Permanent Migration Program for 2024–25

The Australian Government has announced its Permanent Migration Program for the 2024–25 fiscal year, setting the planning level at 185,000 places. Of these, 132,200 places (approximately 70%) will be allocated to the Skill stream. From 2025–26, the planning horizon for this program will extend from one year to four years, facilitating better management and strategic planning. The Migration Strategy currently being implemented is expected to reduce net overseas migration by 110,000 people from July 1, 2024. Consequently, net overseas migration is forecast to decrease from 528,000 in 2022–23 to 260,000 in 2024–25 (Budget paper 1, p 24).

Comprehensive Reforms to Australia’s Migration System

The Government will invest $18.3 million over four years starting in 2024–25 to reform Australia’s migration system, aiming to enhance economic prosperity and restore system integrity. This funding includes:

  • $15.0 million over three years for information and education initiatives to inform migrant workers about workplace safeguards, protections, and compliance with migration laws.
  • $1.9 million for a 2024–25 pilot project to match income and employment data between the Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Taxation Office, aiming to prevent the exploitation of migrant workers and abuse of the migration system (Budget paper 2, p 136).

Staffing Increases for Improved Service Delivery

Significant investment in staffing levels for 2023–24 will bolster service delivery capacity and capability. This includes:

  • Additional resources for Services Australia to address under-resourcing and backlog issues.
  • Enhanced visa processing capabilities within the Department of Home Affairs to reduce wait times (Budget paper 4, p 169).

Southeast Asia Engagement: Enhanced Funding

The Australian Government will allocate $505.9 million over five years from 2023–24 to strengthen engagement with Southeast Asia, aligning with the ‘Invested: Australia’s Southeast Asia Economic Strategy to 2040’. This includes $1.1 million over two years to improve visa access and offer long-validity business and frequent traveller visas for ASEAN member countries and Timor-Leste (Budget paper 2, p 106).

Work and Holiday Visa Ballot Process

A new visa pre-application ballot process will be introduced for the capped Work and Holiday (subclass 462) visa program for China, Vietnam, and India starting in 2024–25. This process aims to manage demand and streamline application processing. A ballot fee of $25, indexed to the Consumer Price Index, will apply (Budget paper 1, p 9).

Introducing the MATES Program

Starting November 1, 2024, the Mobility Arrangement for Talented Early-professionals Scheme (MATES) will provide a pathway for 3,000 Indian graduates and early-career professionals to live and work in Australia for up to two years. This program targets individuals aged 18 to 30 with skills in specific fields. A pre-application ballot fee of $25 and an application charge of $365 will apply, both indexed to the Consumer Price Index (Budget paper 2, p 7).

Extending Business Visitor Visa Validity for Indian Nationals

The validity of the Visitor visa (subclass 600) Business Visitor stream for Indian nationals will be extended from three years to five years. This measure is projected to increase receipts by $435.0 million and payments by $70.9 million over five years starting in 2023–24 (Budget paper 2, p 136).

National Innovation Visa Initiative

The new National Innovation visa will replace the current Global Talent visa (subclass 858) from late 2024. This visa will target exceptionally talented migrants to drive growth in key sectors. The Business Innovation and Investment visa program (BIIP) will cease, with refunds offered for those who withdraw their BIIP applications starting September 2024 (Budget paper 2, p 136).

Temporary Skill Shortage Visa Requirement Adjustment

Effective November 23, 2024, the work experience requirement for the Temporary Skill Shortage (subclass 482) visa will be reduced from two years to one year for all applicants (Budget paper 2, p 136).

Establishing the Administrative Review Tribunal

The Government will allocate $1.0 billion over five years from 2023–24 to establish the Administrative Review Tribunal (ART), replacing the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). This measure includes:

  • $854.3 million over four years for a flexible demand-driven funding model, enabling ART to handle all case lodgements annually.
  • $75.1 million over five years to support the transition from AAT to ART.
  • $2.4 million in 2024–25 for the AAT to continue reviewing unsuccessful protection visa applications until ART begins (Budget paper 2, p 49).

Enhancing Trade Skills Assessment with Modern ICT Solutions

The Government will develop a modern ICT solution for Trades Recognition Australia to assess trade skills for skilled migrants. This initiative will expedite the availability of skilled workers for employers and support migration and workforce objectives (Budget paper 2, p 94).

Migrant and Refugee Settlement Services Reforms

A budget of $120.9 million over five years from 2023–24 will enhance settlement services for refugees and migrants, promoting better economic and social outcomes. Key allocations include:

  • $86.6 million for the Humanitarian Settlement Program.
  • $27.0 million for Youth Transition Support, domestic violence support for women, and settlement support for Afghan humanitarian entrants.
  • $3.8 million for conversational English classes in Community Hubs.
  • $1.9 million for extended Medicare access for Ukrainians on Bridging visas.
  • $1.0 million to extend the Community Refugee Integration and Settlement Pilot.
  • $0.6 million to enhance humanitarian settlement program management (Budget paper 2, p 138).

Support for Individuals Affected by Hamas-Israel Conflict

The Government will provide $2.9 million over two years to support individuals and families from affected areas of Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. This includes:

  • $2.0 million for emergency financial assistance via the Australian Red Cross.
  • $0.9 million for extended Medicare eligibility for Bridging Visa E holders from these regions (Budget paper 2, p 139).

Launching the Leaving Violence Program

The Leaving Violence Program, with a budget of $925.2 million over five years from 2023–24, will provide ongoing support for victims leaving violent relationships. This program includes:

  • $152.3 million to extend the Escaping Violence Payment and Temporary Visa Holders Experiencing Violence Pilot.
  • $16.5 million for legal assistance for temporary visa holders.
  • $6.1 million for specialised support through the Domestic and Family Violence visa support service (Budget paper 2, p 176).

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